Gustavo Petro’s administration considers it necessary to replace the Air Force aircraft, which are about to reach their useful life.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro advertisement this Monday that the controversial purchase of combat aircraft was not carried out for replace the aircraft used by the Colombian Air Force (FAC), which are about to reach their useful life.
Petro -who spoke after statements by his Defense Minister, Ivan Velasquez- explained that the document of the National Council for Economic and Social Policy (Conpes), which gave the green light to the resources to acquire the devices, lost “its legal force on December 31.”
“The Conpes that the Defense Minister is talking about for the purchase of aircraft for almost 650 million dollars was signed by the previous government. It has lost its legal force on December 31,” he wrote on Twitter.
To clarify public opinion, the Conpes that the defense minister is talking about for the purchase of planes for almost 650 million dollars was signed by the previous government. It has lost its legal force this December 31. https://t.co/HtyEb4eXcA
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) January 2, 2023
Shortly before, Velasquez assured in various media outlets that an agreement had not been reached either with France, which offered Dassault Rafale aircraft, or with Sweden, manufacturers of the Gripen aircraft.
“Unfortunately, in the ‘pre-negotiations’ we were not able to come to terms with either the French or the Swedes,” said the minister, who added that now it will be necessary a discussion in the Council of Ministers to specify whether or not a new Conpes is approved.
Velasquez also spoke about the need for the Air Force not to lose its capabilities and reiterated that the matter will be reviewed.
“What was coming now was a Conpes that had been approved in the previous government and that the current Executive was going to make use of, but since no agreement was reached, it did not materialize,” said the head of the Defense portfolio.
The minister stressed that several aspects failed during the negotiations. “Some of these bidders were not interested in [el acuerdo] it was only for three or five [aviones]but must have been for 16“, said.
In the same way, Velasquez explained that the matter about “the way in which the planes would be delivered, fully or partially equipped” caused “an insurmountable argument”which led to the final failure of negotiations.
On December 17, Petro referred to the need to renew the fleet of Kfir combat aircraft, of Israeli origin, and which have been in use for more than 42 years, of which 30 years have been operating in Colombia.
Different sectors criticized his comments and pointed out that these resources should be allocated to social investment, health and education.
Faced with criticism, the president clarified days later that the resources obtained from the tax reform, which he proposes collect some 3,900 million dollars from 2023 to 2026, were not going to be destined for aircraft. In addition, he guaranteed that the money from the social investment would not be used to pay for multipurpose fighters.
The Executive explained that Colombia is “practically the only operator of Kfir aircraft”, which implies that since they do not produce more of these fighter-bombers or their spare parts, there is “an unsustainable capacity”, which means that flying in these conditions is expensive and risky.
“With the current fleet there have been four accidents. It is not enough to have pilots with attitude, dedication and determination, but also adequate and modern equipment to avoid these incidents,” he explained in a statement.
Likewise, the Government explained that the current state of the aircraft makes it difficult to carry out “actions to guarantee aerial interdiction, the fight against organized crime and national sovereignty.”
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